Sunday, May 26, 2013

Play date didn't work out..

I was really hopeful about the play date I set up for Turbo on Saturday. I'd previously seen Turbo act interested in meeting other dogs.. and he just seemed playful. I thought he'd do fine.

But I guess he was a little intimidated by the other dog. She was a 1 year old German Shepard, and easily twice the size of Turbo. She was very energetic and playful too. Maybe it was her size that intimidated Turbo, or maybe it was her energy. I hoped the two would get along and play.. but that did not happen.

They first met through the fence, and at first it seemed like friendly barking.. but this soon turned into angry barking.

Both dogs were kept on leash, and the German Shepard came inside the fence, hoping they'd warm up to each other, but they didn't. When close, they would bark angrily and snap at each other. They'd calm down after a few minutes, so we tried again, but it was the same thing.. angry barking.

So, it didn't work out.

I do believe it is mostly due to Turbo's lack of socialization. The good news is he did calm down after a few minutes and he just sat down panting. He didn't continue to bark at the other dog even though the other dog wasn't backing off. The dogs were just a few feet away, but not being pressured to get close. He was fine with it all, until we tried to bring him close again. So I really don't think it's an aggressive problem.. I think he was simply overwhelmed or intimidated by her.

I'm going to keep trying. Perhaps not in that same way though.

Today I took him back to the canal for a walk where I knew there would be other dogs walking. He did great. When another dog passed by he seemed interested and would look at them and pause or try to go towards them to sniff. I kept him at my side.. the owners of the other dogs were not interested in stopping to meet us.. and that was fine. It's enough for now that they just walk past. I think we'll keep this up regularly.. and maybe down the road try another play date with a dog more Turbo's size.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Rawhide is not very safe for dogs..

I did know that giving your dog rawhide bones can present a choking hazard. If they bite off a large chunk they could choke on it. So you have to be very careful of what type of rawhide to give your dog.

However, I've just learned the rawhide presents more issues to dogs than just choking hazards. Pieces of rawhide that are not swallowed often cannot break down in the dog's digestive system. This is not necessarily fatal to the dog, and most dogs do not consume enough rawhide to make it fatal.. but it can still be problematic.

Here is a link with more information about rawhide and choosing the best kind for your dog:

Unfortunately I am learning there aren't a whole lot of alternative options to rawhide, at least not without spending a fortune! Turbo isn't crazy about chewing on his toys most of the time. He does like rawhide treats, but if he doesn't have something new and interesting to chew, he'll find something.. and usually it's something I'd rather he not chew on!

So I've been buying him beef bone marrow every week. They look something like this..

I find these at my local grocery store, but you have to go to a store that has a butcher on site. Places like Walmart that have all their meat shipped to them won't carry this type of product. You can also try a regular butcher shop.. sometimes you'll find one that gives these away for free. At my store, I pay $2-$3 per package, and they'll come 2-3 to a package depending on the size.

When you buy them, the inside of the bone is filled with marrow, and the outside usually has some meat left on it.

Turbo loves these. He'll spend hours working on them. He starts by ripping the meat off the outside, then he works on trying to get the marrow out of the inside of it. This can take forever, because it's not really easy to get all that marrow out. After awhile he'll actually give up on it, then go back later to try to finish it. Sometimes he can't finish it and days later I'll find one that still has marrow in it. At that point I chuck it outside for local wildlife.

The best part is, the bones are really tough. Turbo has been deemed an aggressive chewer.. but even he can't break or splinter these bones.
So once all the meat and marrow is gone, Turbo is left with a pretty cool chew toy.

(read the post on Bubblews:

Friday, May 24, 2013

Vet and Playdate!

Turbo went to the vet yesterday for a distemper shot. Hubby brought him, I was too scared. The last time I tried to bring Turbo to the vet, it didn't turn out so well. Turbo got too excited and was certainly scared, stressed, and nervous.. so he nipped a lot at the vet when they tried to examine him.. and even started growling. In the end they said they could not examine him as he was too worked up. This time we brought him to a different vet, the one at the shelter where he was adopted. We figured they would do a better job since they examined him before and gave him his first shots there. Well it did work out a lot better. Turbo was still stressed and scared, and he did start growling, but they muzzled him for safety, so everything was just fine! He got his shot, and now he scheduled to be neutered on June 7. Here is a video of Turbo on the way home from the vet. It was pouring down rain, and he had his head out the window trying to catch rain drops! He's so funny! Well, I managed to schedule a play date for him! Tomorrow afternoon we're meeting a 1 year old, female, spayed German Shepard. Turbo is such a hyper, energetic dog, and he hasn't yet learned the proper way to play with humans. I really don't know how well he was socialized as a baby.. all I know about him was he was found as a stray and was in a shelter for about a week until we brought him home. When he sees another dog he seems happy and friendly. His tail wags and he seems loose and wiggly, which is a good sign. If he were tense I'd be afraid of dog aggression. But I thought it would be good for him to have another dog to play with. Being that he's still a puppy, he desperately wants to play.. and he gets a little frustrated that we won't play with him the way he wants, poor guy. I feel bad for him. So I posted an ad looking for a playmate or play group.. and the owner of the German Shepard responded. She has a similar problem.. her dog is still energetic but doesn't have a playmate. We're meeting tomorrow afternoon and I can't wait! I'm so excited for Turbo!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

We went for a nature walk today..

I have been wanting to get Turbo out to socialize with other people and dogs.. since I don't really know his history or how he is with other people or animals, I've been somewhat apprehensive. Plus, there aren't a lot of opportunities for that in my town. The closest dog park is 30 minutes away, and I've previously had a bad experience at that park so I won't go back (it's in a bad area anyway).

But today I had an idea. I live in a town where the Erie Canal used to pass through, and around here parts of the Erie Canal still exist, though it's not in use anymore. (If you're not familiar with the Erie Canal, read my post on Bubblews explaining it: These days most parts of the Erie Canal are used as walking trails, and there are actually a few Erie Canal parks. One particular one has a museum with some information on the history of the canal. They also have different trails to walk. There are the tow path trails along side the canal that the mules used to travel.. or this particular park also has some wooded trails that start and stop along the canal trail.

Dogs are still allowed at this park, as long as they're leashed, so we brought Turbo and went for a walk.
We walked the wooded trail for awhile, as it's less crowded, and gives Turbo more opportunities to sniff. We enjoyed this part of the walk as well. Three of the kids came along with us, and they enjoyed looking for wildlife, I told them they might spot a frog, turtle, or snake along the canal. Of course we also saw squirrels and chipmunks. They also enjoyed looking at these signs that told us what some of the plants were.

The wooded trail ended on the canal trail.. and we chose to continue along the canal trail for awhile longer. Here there were lots of other people walking, running, and bike riding, and some people were also walking their dogs.. this is what I was hoping for. I wanted to see how Turbo would react to the other people and the other dogs.
Most people just walked on past without so much as notice of us. Turbo seemed interested in most people, he wanted to go give them a sniff.. but we just kept walking and he did well with not being able to say hi to everyone he saw.

One particular lady was walking a small breed dog, and she'd let the dog off leash while walking, so he came over to give Turbo a sniff. Turbo was very excited and wanted to play with the small dog, but the small dog was older (8 years old) and only wanted to sniff.. so he decided to keep his distance from Turbo. Turbo got a little jumpy and barked at the little dog.. but his tail was wagging the whole time, so obviously he really just wanted to play.
We chatted with the owner of the small dog for a few minutes. This is how we learned the small dog was 8 years old. We also learned her dog had also been adopted from the same shelter as Turbo, though of course he'd been adopted years ago.

All in all, we were quite proud of Turbo's behavior. We've learned he is definitely a very friendly dog towards other people and dogs.. he is just hyper and wants to play with everyone.. as expected since he's still just a puppy! So we are happy with the results.
We think we'll probably visit this park regularly, hopefully on a weekly basis, to continue to socialize the dog.. not to mention it's great mental stimulation for him and great exercise for all of us!

Read my posts on Bubblews about today's walk:
We Went For A Nature Hike
Turbo's Walk


 Saturday was a rather busy day for us.
Hubby had the day off, so we started the day with some running around. We had a couple stops we wanted to make.. as we were leaving, we went past a little curio shop in our town and they had some of their items sitting out front. My eye caught a couple of bikes they had sitting there. I got out to see how much they wanted for the bikes. Aydan, my 6 year old who will be 7 next month, has been begging for a new bike. The only bike he's had to use was the one he got for his 3rd birthday, which is a 12". The training wheels have broken off, but he still used it to ride down the small hill in our yard, and ended up teaching himself how to ride it without the training wheels. So since the weather got nice out, he's been asking for a new bike. Well one of the bikes at the curio shop was the perfect size, and to my surprise they only wanted $5 for it! It's just a tiny bit beat up. It's got some rust on the wheels and chain, a couple of holes on the seat, and the plastic part of the handle bars is torn a bit. However, it works, and it was $5, so we bought it, and my son is so happy!
 So we finished our running around and did some yard work and played with the dog.. here's Turbo getting some belly rubs from hubby..

We had steak for dinner, which we bought at a butcher shop we'd gone to visit. After dinner we brought Turbo on a long walk up the road to the dead end. After the dead end is about a half mile of road that is closed off to vehicle traffic because of rock slides.. but people can still walk it. After the half mile it connects with the next town up. But when we got to this part we let Turbo off leash for a few minutes to sniff around. Then we walked back home.

We had a nice fire last night on our fire pit to burn off the yard waste from the trees and shrubs we're trimming or cutting down.

All in all it was a pretty good day.

Today doesn't look as nice. It's overcast and cloudy.. good chance of some rain showers at some point. I'm pretty exhausted from yesterday so I don't feel like doing a whole lot.. and of course we're broke so we can't think of a single thing to do. We'll probably end up having a lazy day..

Friday, May 17, 2013

Turbo Update..

Haven't given a Turbo update in a few days, so..

I think things have been going good.

He is one hyper, playful puppy.. and as such he can get himself into lots of mischief! He raids the trash cans about 100 times a day! I'm learning how to pick my battles.. some things just aren't important enough to worry about getting back from him. As long as it's not dangerous for him, or important to us.. I let it be! Otherwise, we work on "give".. I keep in mind not to try to tug on whatever he has, thus turning it into a game for him.
See.. I'm learning :)

I haven't been doing too much with the training lately, I'm not trying to teach him any new tricks. Mostly I just keep working on the ones he knows. He does them consistently in training without a problem, but when there are distractions, forget about it! So I figure instead of overwhelming him with new tricks, I'll just continue to work on the ones he knows so that even when there are distractions he'll know what I'm asking. It's not always easy because he gets a little hyper during training sessions, even though I start them when he's relaxed!

The jumping/biting thing has even gotten a little better. I'm noticing now he doesn't really go to bite us so much as our clothes. First few days it was whatever he could get his mouth on, but now he specifically goes for pant legs and shoes.. and will only go for hands if you're sitting there playing with him at his level, like if you sit on the floor or if he's on the sofa and starts getting playful.

Unfortunately this is going to be a hard habit to break because my children keep reinforcing this type of play, unknowingly of course, and I am talking to them about it!

I notice Turbo tends to "go after" my oldest son and my daughter the most. He'll sometimes go for the rest of us 2, but those are his primary targets.. because they're the most fun for him.. plus the rest of us pay him attention when he's being calm and good.. which I've told all the kids, the best way to stop behavior we don't like is to give him tons of attention for behaviors we do like, and less attention for those we don't!
These 2 kids aren't listening!
When the dog starts playing with one of them, they start squealing "MOM, he's got me! Ahh, Turbo no! Turbo down! Turbo let go! MOM!!!". Then they start jumping around. If he's got their shoe or pant leg they try lifting their foot as high in the air as they can get it..
So I come in and start trying to tell the child "Stand still, stay quiet, you're making it even more fun for him" but they're still screaming so I try yelling over them meanwhile telling another child to go get one of Turbo's toys to try to get his attention.. and the whole thing becomes chaotic...

Can you see why this would be fun for Turbo? His toy is now moving and making lots of noise and saying his name over and over.. although he doesn't understand the rest of it, and I come in and start talking excitedly..

Just so you know, Turbo is not hurting them! I'm watching closely.. usually he just has a mouthful of pants, or shoelaces. Sometimes he tries to regrip (the more they move the more he does this) and he might get leg.. but he doesn't bite down hard when he gets leg or foot. It still hurts a little.. I know from experience.. but it doesn't tear the skin.. so the kids are never in danger.. I just have to point that out before anybody tries saying nasty things about me letting my dog gnaw on my kids! I don't allow this with the younger 2 at all.. but he doesn't go for them much anymore.. as I said, he goes for the oldest and my daughter because they're the most fun.. and I'm trying to train them how to properly handle it!

All in all I think things have definitely gotten better since the day we brought Turbo home. For awhile everyone was afraid to touch him because as soon as you made a move to pet him, he'd start snapping at your hands. I just mentioned to hubby this morning, I actually haven't seen him do that in awhile. I think he's learning that when we go at him with our hands, we're going to pet him and be nice.
Plus we're learning to understand his moods and when he'd be more open to just petting, and when he wants to play.
When he just wants to play, he will bite.. it's not hard though unless he gets too worked up and then sometimes he doesn't control his bite inhibition..

But we're all learning. A lot of it is us..
I'm having daily talks with the kids.. reminding them to give him attention when he's good, and stand still when he tries to play with them. We do play with him in a safe way, outside while he's on a 40 foot lead we'll play fetch or tug. The kids love to play with him this way. The twins love to take him for walks and have been taking him a daily long walk all the way down our road which is a mile long..

So, we're all adjusting, and Turbo is becoming a great addition to the family..

Now if only I could convince the cats not to try to kill him when they come around him.. that's another story :)

(also posted on Bubblews @

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mission Success!

The other day I posted that I was on a mission to get a refund from Nasty Trainer Lady from our terrible training experience. (Read about that here:

It has taken a lot of work, and I'm not exactly happy to say, I turned into a pest. Honestly though, the whole situation was aggravating. I guess her true skill in life is to aggravate!
She ignored most of my e-mails, and the few she responded to were always the same thing. She felt I got what I'd paid for because she gave me over an hour of "useful" information, and that is was my choice to end the session and not return for further training.
When I would respond and remind her that she basically abused my dog, I wouldn't hear back from her again.

Oh but I was very polite in these e-mails, as much as I didn't want to be! I was very careful not to threaten or become angry. I simply stated facts, and linked articles about how a true dog trainer should act (such as not putting their hands on your dog!).

Since Monday of this week I've sent her at least 1 e-mail a day, and sent off 1 complaint per day to some organization. I've sent complaints to the Better Business Bureau, a few local animal organizations and vets, and yesterday I sent a complaint to our local SPCA where I know she volunteers, as she mentioned this to me.

I believe it may have been the e-mail to the SPCA that changed things...

She called me yesterday, but as I have an aversion to phones, I could not answer it (I have severe anxiety problems).
So I e-mailed her after the phone call to explain that I cannot speak on the phone, but said that I really had nothing to talk about, I just wanted her to send my money back.

I got no response.

This morning I began my usual daily ritual. I e-mailed her asking if she'd sent my refund yet so that we could put this behind us. I shot off an e-mail to another animal organization with a complaint about my training session, and I began brainstorming tomorrow's plan.

Then I got her response: "It's in the mail"

I won.. the end!

Just hope I don't have trouble cashing the check!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Yucky Rainy Day..

I'm not looking forward to what the rest of today is going to bring!

A yucky rainy day means everyone is stuck in the house. The kids cannot go outside to run around. They'll be inside, bouncing off the walls, and being as loud as they can be!

The dog can also not go out for his daily walks or playing in the yard. He will also have a lot of pent up energy, and will be feeding off the kids all night.. so he too will be bouncing off the walls.

I'm enjoying the peace and quiet while it lasts right now. The kids are in school and the dog is asleep on the sofa..

But in a few hours all heck is going to break loose!

Maybe I'll get lucky and the rain will stop so the dog and kids can get outside after all!

Boy I hope so!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I'm on a mission!!

Money is tight.. a lot of people are in the same boat. Even a little bit can be hard to part with, especially when you don't like the outcome of what you've spent your money on!

If you go to a restaurant and get terrible food and service, you're probably going to complain and ask for a discount or to have the entire meal free. If you go to the car shop for an oil change and they've put the wrong kind of oil in, you'll probably complain and not pay for the service.

Well, I had a bad experience with a dog trainer. It was a single session that ended in shock after she tried to forcefully put a gentle leader on my dog. I'd warned her he'd had no training or handling because he'd just been rescued from a shelter. Not to mention, if you look it up, you're supposed to coax a dog into the gentle leader using treats! Not force it on them!

The only reason I wrote the check was because I was in shock. Afterwards I realized she didn't deserve to be paid for that session!
I e-mailed her the following Monday, 2 days after the training session, and asked for my money back.

She did not respond.

Thursday I posted on her Facebook page that was created for her business. Still no response.

Yesterday I used a different e-mail account to contact her, and this time she actually responded. Then I again requested the refund, and she refused. I replied with an explanation of why I felt I deserved a refund.

She's ignoring me again!

Well, I need to get my dog fixed. I have bills to pay. I have mouths to feed.

If the training session had gone fine, I'd still be using her because getting Turbo trained is very important to me.

But I did not get what I paid for, and I have more important things to spend my money on.

I am on a mission to get that money back!

I've written multiple reviews of her business on many different websites. Today I wrote into the Better Business Bureau.

When I'm not training Turbo, taking care of the kids, or earning some money on Bubblews, I'm thinking about where else I can write bad reviews of her business and how else to get my money back.

One thing people should know about me.. when I set my mind to something, I become extremely persistent!

I won't quit until I have my money!

Cesar Millan and Turbo Training..

I've been borrowing a lot of materials from the library to research different dog training techniques.
One of the books I borrowed and really like, and do recommend to others is The Dog Trainer's Complete Guide to a Happy, Well-Behaved Pet.

I also picked up Cesar Millan's  Be the Pack Leader: Use Cesar's Way to Transform Your Dog . . . and Your Life. I do not recommend this one!!

Although I did not agree with Cesar Millan's ideas, a few of them were helpful. I do agree with his idea of energy. Not necessarily the "I'm the boss" type of energy, but a calm energy when around your dogs. I've always heard it said that dogs can sense fear. I'm sure they can sense stress, anger, and chaotic energy also.. at least Turbo seems to. During the day when the kids are at school, Turbo is the calmest dog on the planet. He'll sleep all day on the sofa and literally needs to be dragged outside for potty breaks!
As soon as the kids are home he's a completely different dog! Bouncing off the walls and rather unstable at times. Even if he looks calm you can't go near him because he might bite, nip, jump on you..
He's feeding off everyone else's energy.

I also liked Cesar's idea about a pack walk. Not because it teaches the dog who is in charge.. but it does get the dog good exercise! I decided to try it over the weekend.

Turbo can sometimes be hard to handle on his leash, even with the Gentle Leader on. He still likes to pull away because he wants to go sniff something or chase something. Wearing the Gentle Leader, as soon as he pulls against it and feels that tension around his snout, he'll start to fight it and shake his head and try to rub it off.

If we put him in the grass where he's got things to sniff, he's a little easier to handle.. but he still tries to pull, and will stop when he wants to really investigate a smell.

Yes this is typical dog behavior.. but you don't really get anywhere when taking him for a walk.. so he's not getting the proper exercise he needs while walking.

Cesar made some very valid points about a dog needing to "migrate" or just walk in one direction at a decent pace for a long time.. like at least half an hour.

So Sunday I put the Gentle Leader on Turbo and went to walk down our road.. about a mile down is a dead end, and that's where we were heading.
I took on an all business attitude. "I'm walking, you're coming with me!" I held his leash tight so that he couldn't sniff around.. his head was just stuck at my side.
It took a minute for him to get the idea. He fought a little at first, wanting to sniff because we normally let him.

But soon it was amazing! He didn't fight it.. he just walked there next to me. He seemed to love it! We both relaxed and just walked briskly.
Oh sure, once or twice he'd smell something he wanted to investigate and he'd fight a bit against the GL.. but I'd just keep walking, and pull (not tug!) on the leash until he fell back into step, which he did! Once we got to the end I gave him a few minutes to sniff, and then we headed back. It took a total of 30 minutes and it was a great walk!
So we did the same thing yesterday.
Turbo still gets some shorter walks during the day where he can sniff and do what he wants.. but at least once a day he's going to just go on a power walk and get some exercise!

The rest of what Cesar preaches.. well, that's totally different!
After the walk I started thinking "Maybe there's something to what Cesar is saying" since the walk worked out so well.
So we watched some of his Dog Whisperer shows on Netflix and saw him in action.

Then when Turbo got all rowdy, we tried some of them. No, they did not work. The dog got scared, which of course made him fight back. I can't exactly blame him!
That night hubby and I decided we would no longer try Cesar's way. It does not work on our dog. We'll go back to my rewards based system which seemed to be working just fine! But I will add in the walks.. all trainers agree exercise is the first step towards fixing behavior problems in a dog!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Turbo Training 5/11/13

This morning while surfing the web, I came across a video on how to teach a dog to go lay down in "their spot". I decided we'd try that. I can think of about a hundred times I'd want to use this command, but first he needs to know it!

You start by choosing his spot... I put a blanket down on the floor and for now that will be his spot until I can get him a pet bed or something.

Then you toss treats onto the spot, and as soon as he steps on the blanket or bed you click.

We did this a few times, then he stayed on the blanket sniffing for more treats. So I got him to lie down on it, and gave him a treat. Then I told him stay, and gave him a treat. Then I gave the release command. Then we started over by throwing treats onto the blanket.

Turbo is a really smart dog and picks up on new commands so quickly! Normally a command like this would take many training sessions.. first one just throwing the treats onto the spot, 2nd one trying to get him to stay on the spot...

Nope, Turbo got it fast! By the end of our session I just said "Go lay down" and he walked over to the blanket without me throwing a treat.. so then he got the treat.

So proud of my smart doggy! :)

After the training session we went for a walk with the gentle leader.. he's getting so much better with that! We walked down our dead end road.. probably about a quarter mile, and back. And he did great! He's not trying as hard to get the GL off, when he does I tell him no, then give him turkey when he stops and walks the way I want him to..

So when we got back I put him on his tie out and played fetch with him for awhile to let him run off some of his energy..

It's been a good training day so far :)

(also posted on Bubblews at:

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Training Turbo 5/9/13

Today we worked on "give" some more, mostly while he was outside playing with a ball. He does nip a lot, so I started off by tossing the treat a few feet away so I could get the ball without being nipped, but I slowly worked on handing him the treat and taking the ball at the same time.

We also worked a little on impulse control. It was supposed to be a "leave it" session, where you're supposed to step on a treat and wait for him to be distracted, then give it to him. Well, he was so excited when he saw the treat, that I couldn't even set it down without him trying to scarf it up. So I made him do a sit/stay and then I set the treat a few feet away from him, made him hold his sit a few moments longer, then gave him the okay to get the treat.

One of the problems I'm seeing with Turbo is he gets extremely worked up over treats.. more so than I think is normal.. not that I really know what "dog normal" is.

Well, the Nasty Trainer Lady was the one who told me to give him set meal times and take his dish away after 30 minutes.. and if he hadn't finished the food, then he'd learn to eat it faster.
Personally, I'm the type who leaves food out all the time for my pets so it's always there if they're hungry.
Turbo is good about eating. He doesn't scarf the food down. He eats a few bites and walks away, and goes back for a few more bites.

So for the past week I actually have been keeping his food dish up when it wasn't a meal time, and he's getting the majority of his food as treats for training, or through his kong toys.

I mentioned my concern over the treat excitement to hubby, and he said maybe the dog is just that hungry! We didn't notice this type of behavior before we started picking up his dish, and although he's had a week, he still has not learned to eat all of his food within the half hour time frame.

So I'm going to go back to leaving his food out all day and see what happens.
I realize this could create problems such as not being motivated by treats to do his training, or gaining too much weight. But I just want to try it and see if he stops getting over-excited whenever he sees a treat. I'll adjust my methods if needed.. it's all a learning experience right now!

Gentle Leader training Day 3

It is getting to be super easy to get the Gentle Leader on Turbo now. Depending on his mood he might immediately let me put it on, or sometimes if he's sort of worked up he'll try to push it away and just take the treat, but eventually when he realizes he won't get the treat, he'll stuff his nose in the loop hole and let me put it on.

I have been taking him outside, although I said I wouldn't. Inside the house he doesn't do anything, even with it on. He'll just sit there staring at me, waiting for more turkey! So, I take him out.

Today I walked him around the yard a couple times while he wore the GL. He spends most of the time still trying to get it off by rubbing his paws on his face or rubbing his face on the ground.

The last time I got it on him we walked down the road a bit and back, and he did fairly well most of the time.. but I guess I was pushing it as when we got back to the house he was jumping in circles trying to pull the GL off himself.

I know we've still got a ways to go to get him to enjoy wearing the GL, but I am impressed at the progress he has made so far in just 3 days. I didn't expect to even have it on him yet, so I am happy!

Choosing a dog trainer..

After my awful experience last week, I wanted to share some tips with other dog owners out there who might be seeking obedience training for their dog.

Here is an extremely helpful article from the Humane Society.

As it suggests, you might want to sit in on a few sessions without your dog, just to see what sort of training goes on there.
The Nasty Trainer Lady I chose used many of the methods mentioned there that trainers shouldn't do, which included yelling at the dog, holding his snout shut when he was nipping, and pinning him down.
I should have done more research before choosing this trainer, but I was in such a hurry to straighten Turbo out and make him the perfect family dog, I didn't ask one single question before starting our training. That was my mistake!

Please don't make the same mistake I did!
Not all people who call themselves dog trainers are actually good at training dogs!! Do your research!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Gentle Leader Update..

Here's Turbo out for a walk wearing his gentle leader!
Didn't take nearly as long as I expected to get to this point!

Let me say though, he did not like it! He let me put it on him without a problem, and I managed to get him out for a walk, hoping to get him used to it. I should have just let him wear it around the house for a few minutes instead. He tried to get it off with his paws, but I got it just tight enough that he couldn't. So then he started rubbing his head on the ground, and eventually shaking his head. He really didn't like it.

We walked a little ways, him getting turkey treats every few steps! But finally I figured he'd had enough, so I took it off.

My mistake was getting too excited over our progress and taking it to the next step too soon. From now on whenever I put it on, he'll just wear it inside for as long as he can stand it. We'll try that a few times a day, until he gets to a point where he's not trying to take it off anymore.. then we'll start the walks with it!

Still, I'm happy with the progress we made in just 1 day! 

Training Turbo 5/8/13

I don't really get much training done later in the day with Turbo.. he gets too wound up with all the kids home, so mostly I spend my afternoons just supervising and preventing problems.. and only do any type of training when opportunities arise..

So far today Turbo and I have worked on a couple of things.

1st was getting him into his Gentle Leader, which I am happy to say has been more successful than I expected so soon!
Earlier I posted about our first small success with the GL..

Well a little while ago I tried again. He was asleep again, so I thought it would be a good time, but as soon as I went into the kitchen for the turkey, he woke up and came to investigate. I figured at this point it would be hopeless since he was already starting to get worked up.. but he proved me wrong! I gave him a piece of turkey and put the GL on him with no problem.. then I fed him more turkey. I was so happy I was able to get it on him with very little trouble.. but he still didn't like having it on. He pawed at his nose again.. he doesn't like the nose loop part. It took him awhile to actually get it off. Again I was debating attempting a walk.. but after awhile he managed to get the nose loop off his nose again. I've got to make the nose loop just an itsy bit more snug!
So I took the GL off and still took him for a walk to celebrate his much bigger success!

We also worked on "give". We tried this a couple times. First, I gave him a bone, and tried to get him interested in it.. but he saw that I had treats so wanted no part of the bone.

Later I gave him a stuffed kong, and he was going to town, so we tried "give" again. Worked on that for a few minutes, then I let him finish off his kong in peace. All in all he did very well.

We still had a couple problems with him jumping on me and biting a bit. This is his way of playing, and he hasn't yet learned that we don't like it..
both times he did it I had to crate him to calm him down.. just for a few minutes. I'm really hoping these instances become fewer and fewer! At least when my oldest got home from school, Turbo didn't try to jump on him like he normally does.. he was pretty good.. so maybe he's slowly starting to learn.

All in all I'd say it's been a pretty good day so far.. but the kids aren't all home from school yet, so we'll see how the afternoon goes!

(also posted on Bubblews:

Gentle Leader Training, Day 2

With a bit of luck and really good timing, I was actually able to put the GL on Turbo today!

I chose a time when the dog was sleeping peacefully on the sofa. Of course he woke up when I went over to him, but he did not get up and didn't get excited. Just laid there. So, I put the gentle leader on him and fed him lots of turkey as a treat as well as lots of praise and pets. He didn't seem to care while he was lying there. I snapped this photo as quick as I could before he changed his mind. I waited to see what he'd do, and he did nothing. So, I hooked up his leash to the GL to see if he wanted to go for a walk.

As soon as he stood up, that's when he started trying to get the GL off. He pawed at his nose until he made the nose loop come off his nose (meaning I need to tighten it a bit more, but that was hard to determine while he was lying down!).

So, I took the GL off him, hooked the leash back to his normal collar, and brought him for a walk to reward his small success!

We'll keep trying.. but hooray for small successes!! :)

Also posted on Bubblews:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Gentle Leader training, Day 1

I got my Amazon shipment in the mail today which consisted of a Tie Out Cable, a pooper scooper, a clicker, and a gentle leader.

Now if you read my previous post about Turbo's training session you'll know his previous experience with a gentle leader did not go so well. But I have a plan to make Turbo eventually LOVE his gentle leader (GL). I came up with this plan myself immediately after leaving Nasty Trainer Lady, and was surprised to find the pamphlet that came with the GL actually instructs to do exactly what I was planning.

For starters, Turbo is getting special treats! I'm using some turkey lunch meat instead of his usual regular doggy treats. And these special treats will only be used with the GL, so he's soon going to associate the GL with special treats!!

What I did today was take the GL out of the package, and just held it out for Turbo to sniff. Each time he sniffed it he got a small piece of turkey. After a few sniffs I opened up the snout portion and draped it on his snout and gave him a treat. He quickly shook it off.. but that's okay. We're just getting him warmed up to the idea. I don't expect to have it on him today.. I'm just introducing it to him and teaching him to love it!

We did this for probably about 5 minutes, until Turbo got overly worked up and decided he wanted to play. That's when the GL and the turkey were put away.

We'll try the same thing again later.. and keep doing this until he allows the GL to be put on him without a fuss. After that.. it will probably still take time before we walk him with the GL on. We're just going to take it slowly and work on it one step at a time!

Read the post on Bubblews:

Monday, May 6, 2013

Monday is not off to a good start..

Before my younger 2 even left for school this morning, I was already getting a phone call from the high school! My oldest will be spending the day in in-school suspension for disrespecting a substitute teacher on Friday. Argh! The Vice Principal told me they've been having behavior problems with my son for a couple weeks now.. and actually, so have I. He's got the worst attitude problem lately. Won't listen to anything, takes everything personally. Thinks the younger kids get away with more than he does.. which is not true! They just don't behave quite as badly as he does.

But this attitude of his is rubbing off. My 10 year old is now giving me attitude problems. He was playing in the creek over the weekend and when he came in his lips were blue. I mentioned this and asked if the creek was really cold. His response: "Well my lips wouldn't be blue if it weren't".

These kids aren't going to have much of a fun summer if they keep this up!

Also, early this morning, my husband broke on of my favorite candles! My lilac scented candle from Bath & Body Works. He knocked it off the table accidentally and it shattered!

Now the kids are at school and things seem to have calmed down.. but who knows what will happen when they get home!

I'm going to spend part of this afternoon working on dog training and see how that goes.

Here's hoping the worst of the day is over!!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Doggone Safe

I want to share this website I came across called This site is dedicated to reducing the number of people bitten by dogs. They do this by educating us on why dogs bite and the types of behaviors to watch out for to tell if a dog is going to bite.
There is all sorts of valuable information on this site I really think everyone needs to know. Even if you don't own a dog, your still going to be around them. You may visit friends who have a dog, or see dogs on the street. It's important to keep yourself and your children safe, and the dog as well since it will likely be put down if it bites you.

So check out the site, click through some of the links, learn about the behaviors to watch for.. and be safe!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Turbo's training session..

The training session turned out horribly, but I don't blame Turbo!

We signed up for private lessons, so Turbo was able to run around and play while the trainer explained some basic training tips to me. A lot of it was stuff I've already learned on my own. I found a great blog with helpful tips about dog training: and there is also a book I borrowed from the library and intend to buy now that I've read most of it: The Dog Trainer's Complete Guide to a Happy, Well-Behaved Pet

So, because of this book, I have learned a lot of tips already, and the trainer basically reiterated most of them. 

After about an hour of talking, she decided to finally get down to training. She pulled out a gentle leader and I got excited! I've just ordered one of these myself, so I was happy I was going to learn how to use it in a training session!

But the dog wasn't keen about having it put on. She got it on once, but he was able to get it off because it wasn't tight enough. She took it off, tightened it, and tried again. Turbo wanted no part of it. But she insisted.
She put the dog between her legs so he was pinned. She grabbed his head, pinning that as well. He started nipping at her, lightly at first.. but the more she fought with him, the more aggressive the dog got. She was holding his face to stop him from biting at her. Anytime he started to bite she'd yell "hey" at him really loud. 
So he started growling, and the growling got louder as she continued to fight. Obviously the dog was getting really angry! Anyone else probably would have backed off.. especially since this wasn't extremely important, and you don't want the dog to think training is going to be stressful or else he won't want to do it!

But she kept at it until the dog actually bit her and drew blood.. on her hand. It was a small bite, and she admitted it was her own fault for pushing him so far.

So now she gives up (only teaching the dog he'll get his way when he bites someone! Great.. thanks Miss Trainer Lady!) and tells me I should re-think keeping this dog since I have small children in my home!

Well.. the only times my dog has ever shown any sort of aggression has been when someone has been forcefully making him do something he doesn't want to do.. and not nicely either!
I'm sure I could do a better job with some praise and treats than she did with pinning him down and trying to hold his head!

So I'm taking over his training myself with the help of my trusty book!

The hard part is going to be getting the kids to stick with it because the dog needs consistency. I'll probably end up training them more than I train the dog!

Read the post on Bubblews:

Thursday, May 2, 2013

How to pet a dog..

Ok, so to some of you it might sound stupid.. but yeah, I actually looked this up! I've never owned dogs before. I've always owned cats. I know what cats like. Cats like to be scratched under their chin, or behind their ears. On top of their head is okay. The very end of their back, at the edge of their tail, that's one of their favorite spots. Most cats don't like belly rubs, but some do. Generally if you pet a cat on the belly it starts playing with your hand, biting and kicking it. That's what cats do, and I know all this.

But where is a dog's favorite place to be pet? What don't they like? These things, I don't know. So I did a search.

Here's the first thing I clicked on:

This enlightened me a bit. Well, it wasn't exactly what I was looking for, but it did tell me things I didn't know, such as how dogs feel about being pat on the head! I think these are very good pointers for people who don't know dogs too well, like myself. And a lot of it is very true. Now that I have my own dog, I also feel like I do not want people just running up to pet him. He's a jumper and a biter. People can't just come up to pet him because he could hurt them. It is smart to ask first and not feel bad if the owner says no! It's not because they don't like you, it's for your safety, or the dog's safety, or both.. because in most places if a dog bites a human the dog is put down.. which is so sad!

So if you don't know much about dogs but like petting them when you see them in public (or your kids often want to pet dogs they see, like mine do!) please read that blog post to keep yourselves, your children, and the dog safe!

I contacted an obedience trainer..

We had another rough day with Turbo yesterday. He seems to have his energy back! He was quite rowdy yesterday!

I tried to take him to the park in the afternoon, just me, him, and my 5 year old. He does okay at the park, since he has a ball to chase. Normally his mind is on the ball so he doesn't get jumping or biting. But yesterday he ignored the ball and tried going for my 5 year old. We were in an enclosed baseball field all fenced in so the dog couldn't run off (which he doesn't seem to want to, he chases the ball and comes right back to us and stays close unless we throw the ball again). But he didn't chase the ball so I walked out to get it, and my son followed me. That's when Turbo tried to play with my son. I picked up my son and kept turning away from Turbo while walking towards the gate. The dog kept jumping on me trying to get my son, all the while attempting to bite (playfully). He got me good a couple times. Once right on the butt! It hurt, but he didn't pierce the skin.

We'd only been there a few minutes, so I tried to calm the dog and let my son go play on the playground, but the dog wouldn't calm. I was trying to offer treats and get him to lie down, wasn't happening. The dog decided he'd rather play tug o war with his leash.. something he's been doing a lot lately, which gets scary for who ever is walking him. He's a smart dog.. he jumps up and tries to get the part your hand is holding to get you to let go.. but of course this is bad for the person holding the leash.

So we came home, but Turbo stayed riled up all night. He nipped at everyone a few times, playfully. I gave him bones, put food in his kong, and even put him in his crate for time outs a couple times. He wouldn't calm down. But anytime we tried to walk him he'd just play tug o war with the leash again.
We try redirection with other toys or treats, but he really likes tug o war..
I've heard the best way to train a dog to properly play is to drop the toy when he makes skin contact.. but I can't exactly drop his leash while we're outside.. so I don't know what to do about this!

So last night I e-mailed an obedience trainer in my area. I explained the entire situation to her, and told her right now our budget is super tight so I can't come up with the entire fee at once due to vet bills and such. Well she's willing to work with me financially, I'll pay her weekly until it's paid off (thank goodness!) and she's going to start giving him private lessons starting tomorrow morning!

I'm so happy! I really am!

Honestly, when he's not playing, Turbo is a wonderful dog. He likes to cuddle, he curls up with whoever he can. Last night we were all watching a movie. My younger boys like to grab their blankets and lie on the floor while watching a movie. Turbo curled up with my youngest on the blanket. It was cute!

We all really like the dog, we just need him to stop biting and jumping! So wish us luck with the training!! 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


So, I thought finding a dog was hard.. ha! Not as hard as having one.. we really did not know what we were in for with Turbo!

As you may recall, we adopted Turbo last week from a shelter. We know nothing about his life before this became his home. Supposedly he was found as a stray.

Things had gone fine over the weekend. He's a very loving dog who likes to sleep on the sofa near his people.
He's also a very playful dog.. but he doesn't play very nice. He's very rough. He likes to "mouth" which is basically biting but he doesn't mean to hurt. After doing a lot of research I've learned this is very natural, but is usually a habit that is broken at a very young age as the puppy learns people don't like to be bit. Obviously nobody taught that to this puppy, and now that he's a little older (about 6 months) it's going to be a little harder to teach him something he's always thought was okay to do.

This causes a problem because for 1, whenever the kids are wandering around the house the dog might nip at them for no reason. The dog may think they are trying to play, or he may get excited, or who knows what he's really thinking.. but of course this makes the kids nervous. So now instead of just going to pet him they sort of hold their hand over his head waiting to see what he'll do.. and this usually gives him more reason to nip at them.

Problem #2 is during play. He seems to think play must involve jumping on people and biting them.

So that was our weekend. We researched these problems, what to do to make it stop, and gave some good consideration to some obedience training.

Then came Monday. Monday wasn't such a good day..

Monday morning I took Turbo for a walk, and he was sneezing and had boogers running from his nose. He'd also had an occasional cough that had me a little worried. So, I decided to make an appointment to have our vet check him out. Here's where I went wrong!

Everything was fine until we got there.. then my Turbo went crazy! Jumping and barking at everything he saw. It was over stimulation and I could not control him.. big mistake!

So when the vet came in to check him out, Turbo was beyond worked up. Mostly he was just overly playful.. but as the vet tried to examine him his playful growls and nips turned a bit more serious.

The vet brought Turbo in the back, but could not examine him. She then returned to the room alone to tell me she suggests we re-think the idea of keeping Turbo in our family.

I myself was worked up and frightened. I already had a fear of dogs from childhood, plus I was stressed from my attempts to control Turbo in the waiting room..

I just ended up in tears and thinking the vet was probably right. Turbo was too much for us and we couldn't be certain to trust him around the kids.

We had a lapse in judgement that night, caused by my fears and the vet's advice. We returned Turbo to the shelter we'd adopted him from.

But we knew immediately that was the wrong choice! We know Turbo is a handful.. but he's not aggressive or mean.. he's just hyper.. very hyper, and hasn't learned right from wrong!

We realized we can't blame him for his reaction to the vet. He didn't know better. It was a stressful situation. Who wouldn't get scared and stressed in that type of situation if you don't know what's going on and you've only just left a shelter?

We brought Turbo back home first thing Tuesday morning. We know he needs a lot of work. Perhaps we aren't the right family for him as he needs time, patience, love, and probably a lack of small children that he could possibly hurt with his mouthing.

But we decided we're just going to have to make adjustments to keep everyone safe. The children have to leave the dog alone for now, or only approach him when he's cuddling on the sofa. The dog has a crate for when things get out of hand. I've learned my lesson about trying to take him to public places alone!
I've contacted an obedience trainer who will probably start working with us as soon as Friday morning (which is not soon enough!!).
Meanwhile we're doing tons of research to find the best ways to handle Turbo until we can get the training accomplished. I've ordered some products to help, such as a gentle leader  (shown below on Amazon, click the ad for more info).

It will be hard, we understand that, and we gave it very serious consideration before bringing him back home Tuesday morning. But there was no way we could part with him. Monday night was awful for us. We were all in tears over it. Tuesday my 10 year old son couldn't go to school because he was too upset. When I woke up he was sitting on the sofa, crying, and holding the dog's collar.

He's already a part of our family and there's no way we can part with him. So, just like an unruly child, we have to work to set up rules, boundaries, and rewards for good behavior..

Here's Turbo in the car on the way back home Tuesday morning and a very happy Tyler to have his doggy back :)